Firearms dealer guilty in Wyverstone gun hoard case

Stash of weapons Image copyright powells
Image caption A hidden door in James Arnold's kitchen led to this hoard of illegal weapons, including automatic machine guns

A firearms dealer has been found guilty of helping a parish council chairman amass the UK's biggest stash of illegal weapons.

Police found more than 400 firearms at James Arnold's home in Wyverstone, Suffolk, in April 2014.

Arnold, 49, was facing charges including owning a Uzi sub-machine gun, died from cancer before going to court.

But dealer Anthony Buckland, 65, faced 20 counts of selling prohibited weapons and fraud by false representation.

Buckland, from Stoke Holy Cross, Norfolk, denied all charges but jurors at Norwich Crown Court found him guilty of 11 counts of selling a prohibited weapon and nine of fraud by false representation.

Image copyright powells
Image caption James Arnold had a false wall masked by shelving in a larder at his Wyverstone home
Image copyright powells
Image caption The door led to a safe
Image copyright powells
Image caption The safe housed further weapons

Buckland, who shook uncontrollably as the final verdicts were returned, was released on bail ahead of his sentencing on 9 January.

'Secret room'

Judge Stephen Holt said he needed more information about a medical condition that Buckland was said to have.

"As you know, parliament has said the minimum sentence for this is one of five years," he told him.

Image caption Police found a Uzi sub-machine gun and an AK-47 assault rifle among the 400 weapons in Wyverstone

Prosecutor Andrew Oliver told the court the discovery was the "biggest stash of weapons this country had ever experienced".

Suffolk Police spent six weeks at Mr Arnold's home where they carried out controlled explosions and found a secret arms room behind a false wall in his kitchen.

Buckland had told the court he had known Mr Arnold for more than 25 years, during which time he had served as Wyverstone Parish Council chairman.

Image caption Police spent six weeks searching James Arnold's home in the village near Stowmarket

The trial heard the defendant claim he never suspected Mr Arnold of doing anything illegal.

Records showed he supplied 26 weapons to a man called JJ Hambrose, who the prosecution said was a fictitious character, and these weapons were found in the Wyverstone arsenal.

The false representation charges related to the selling of weapons which had supposedly been converted to be make them legal, but which were in fact still prohibited.

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